Clare win eight-goal thriller

Davy Fitzgerald celebrates a Clare goal in the first half. Pic: Inpho.

Clare 5-16 Cork 3-16
Clare triumphed in another explosive All-Ireland Hurling final to land a first title since 1997, finishing with a flourish in a ferociously contested replay at Croke Park.

Davy Fitzgerald’s young heroes sprinted over the finish line in an eight-goal thriller, none more heroic than 19-year-old Shane O’Donnell.

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald celebrates after his side's victory. Pic: Sportsfile.

A late inclusion in the starting line-up, he repaid the manager’s faith with a thundering 3-3 tally, including a first half hat-trick.

At times the Shannonsiders looked like they would run away with this one at the second attempt, but the Rebels came storming back in the second half, going level 10 minutes from the end with a Seamus Harnedy goal.

Darach Honan was the man who made way for the hat-trick man, but it was he who came off the bench to seal a sweet victory with his side’s fifth goal in stoppage time.

O’Donnell got in for his first goal in the sixth minute, finishing to the bottom corner of the net after Pat Donnellan had sliced through the Rebel cover with a surging run and perfectly timed hand-pass.

Shane O'Donnell scores Clare's second goal. Pic: Sportsfile.

Seven minutes later he had the ball in the net again. As Conor O’Sullivan lost his footing, the 19-year-old received from Conor McGrath to beat Anthony Nash from close range.

That score gave the Banner a 2-5 to 0-4 lead, John Conlon. Also on tatget, with Colin Ryan clipping over a couple of frees.

Cork’s nervous defence did anything but inspire confidence, and they were struggling to keep in touch, even with fine scores from Seamus Harnedy, Lorcan McLoughlin and Pat Horgan.

But in the 16th minute, Nash stepped up to blast a 20 metre free past 12 players for a goal that brought the Rebels back to within a goal.

Clare's defence fail to stop Anthony Nash's goal. Pic: Sportsfile.

Problems at the back were soon to surface again, however, and, remarkably, O’Donnell was allowed to drift in behind his marker to collect Conlon’s flick and complete his hat-trick.

Two goals behind, Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s men needed to get back in the game fast, and they scored five of the remaining eight points of the opening half to give themselves a fighting chance.

Horgan steered over three, and Pa Cronin had his effort confirmed by a Hawk-Eye review, while at the other end, Ryan brought his tally to five converted frees to give Clare a 3-9 to 1-11 interval lead.

Conor Ryan of Clare catches the sliotar under pressure from Cork's Seamus Harnedy. Pic: Inpho.

Cork got their rearguard in order, with Stephen McDonnell and Conor O’Sullivan shoring things up, and a string of Horgan frees had them level by the 53rd minute.

Now Clare had to soak up the pressure, and David McInerney in particular rose to the occasion, helping to turn the tide back in Banner favour.

O’Donnell slotted over their first point in 17 minutes, but they were knocked back once again when Harnedy slid home Cork’s second gola after Patrick Kellyu had saved superbly from Lehane. Level again in an epic.

Within two minutes, Clare had the ball in the net again, Conor McGrath’s brilliant solo strike raising the roof at Croke Park.

They went six ahead, but in the 70th minute, Cork hit the net again, Stephen Moylan blasting home a superb goal, but there was yet another to come at the other end, Honan off the bench to juggle the ball in from the end line and send it rolling over the line.

Shane O'Donnell celebrates with team mate Padraic Collins. Pic: Inpho.

Clare scorers: S O’Donnell 3-03, C McGrath 1-01, D Honan 1-00, C Ryan 0-07 (6f, 1 ’65), T Kelly 0-3, J Conlon 0-2.

Cork scorers: S Harnedy 1-02, S Moylan, 1-01, A Nash 1-00 (f), P Horgan 0-09 (7f), C Lehane 0-02, P Cronin, L McLoughlin 0-01 each.

Cork: A Nash, S McDonnell, S O’Neill, C O’Sullivan, B Murphy, C Joyce, W Egan, L McLoughlin, D Kearney, S Harnedy, C McCarthy, P Cronin, L O’Farrell, P Horgan, C Lehane.

Subs: S White for Egan, S Moylan for O’Farrell, T Kenny for Kearney, C Naughton for McCarthy

Clare: P Kelly, D O'Donovan, D McInerney, C Dillon, B Bugler, P Donnellan, P O'Connor, C Ryan, C Galvin, J Conlon, T Kelly C Ryan, P Collins, S O’Donnell, C McGrath.

Subs: C McInerney for Galvin, N O’Connell for Collins, D Honan for O’Donnell, S Morey for Kelly

Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath)

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